Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Pan Fried Basa with a creamy Courgette and Chorizo Sauce

Over the years after many trials and tribulations I have become far more confident with cooking fish successfully, and this time I won the jackpot! I loved everything about this dish, it was dreamt up and fortunately it was a very good dream! The creamy sauce, with smoky chorizo and fresh chunks of sweet courgette works so well with the Basa, a relatively plain, affordable white fish that's ideal for this dish. It was a dish I would be happy to order and eat in a good restaurant!

I tried to keep the dish relatively simple, we had no cream in and as we car share during the week, and B was not home from work yet, so a little improvisation was on the cards! I wondered to myself if I could substitute with a little milk and it worked a treat! By the time it had cooked, and a little flour to thicken it was a really good consistency, smooth and cream like without being heavy or claggy (not often manage to use that word!! I used both dill and thyme in the dish in different stages, partly down to indecision! I wanted the earthy thyme with the rich chorizo but had some lovely fresh dill leftover from a fish pie I made on saturday - in the end I cooked the thmye at the start with the chorizo and then the dill went in to finish the dish. If you can't get any fresh dill I would suggest just use extra thyme leaves instead.

Another bonus is that its also cooked all in one pan so less to wash up! Alongside the fish I made sweet potato mash - always a winner!! Even more so when it involves my beloved Masha toy! If you hate mashing (or have evil elbow joints!) then its a god-send and takes no effort and is surprisingly therapeutic! I've had mine a few years now and wouldn't be without it! 

Serves 2
Easy
Under 30 minutes

Ingredients:

2 Basa fillets (approx. 260g), halved across the middle
70g chorizo, finely sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large beef tomato, chopped
1 courgette, halved and sliced
2 tbsp plain flour
Sea salt and black pepper
50g butter
1 heaped tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 heaped tbsp. fresh dill leaves, chopped
200ml milk

Sweet Potato Mash:
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 white potato
Salt and pepper



1) Place the flour on a shallow plate and season with salt and pepper, pat the fish dry on kitchen towel and then coat well in the flour mix (don’t discard the flour mix!)

2) Meanwhile boil the potatoes in salted water for 15 minutes, then drain well. 

3) Heat a tsp of the butter in a large saute pan, fry the chorizo and courgettes gently for 3 minutes until starting to colour nicely, add the tomato and fry for a further 2 minutes, add the thyme leaves and stir through, remove everything using a slotted spoon and keep warm.

4) Add the butter to the pan, melt down over a moderate heat, add the fish pieces in a single layer and fry for 3 minutes, turn over and fry for a further 2 minutes until crispening, spooning over the buttery juices, push to one side of the pan and add the prepared chorizo veggie mix, pour in the milk and simmer for a minute, make a well and sparingly scatter 1 tbsp of the flour mix and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring the sauce constantly until thickened. Add the dill and stir through.

5) Drain the potatoes, and mash, season to taste.

6) Serve up the mash on one side of your plate, with the veggie bits on the other side and gently place the fish on top. Scatter over a little sprinkle of dill leaves to garnish.




My dish was quite frugal and so I am sending my dish into this months Credit Crunch Munch - my Basa was bought half price reduced and my thyme leaves can from my 13p reduced plant! The tomatoes and dill were also bought over by dad so were free to me! This month it was run by Food Glorious Food. It was set up by Fab Food 4 All and Fuss Free Flavours to promote frugal recipes and cooking.



Also I snuck in a lonely, slightly soft tomato and cooked the courgettes all together in the sauce to boost veggie content with minimal washing up! I have entered it in Jen's Food Extra Veg Challenge, created by Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy Food for Families:


Last but not least my first entry to Cook Blog Share! This week its held by Sneaky Veg ( I love the name!)



Sunday, 23 August 2015

Stick Out your Personality with Mikado

I have received product from Mikado for this post. It is an entry to the Foodies100 Stick out your personality challenge sponsored by Mikado. Mikado are unique, long & ultra-thin crunchy biscuit sticks coated with smooth milk chocolate, with one end left bare so that you don’t get sticky fingers when eating. Mikado comes in four delicious flavours: Milk, White, Daim and Choco King, and stocked in all major supermarkets at an RRP of £1.39. To find out more, visit https://www.facebook.com/Mikado.uk?fref=ts

Sharing is Caring!
 If you have not come across Mikado before, they are basically rather yummy, thin crunchy pretzel style sticks, coated in chocolate. What's more they are only 11 calories each! This is beneficial as I can normally demolish a box easily in one sitting!

This summer Mikado have launched a competition to find the best selfie showing off your personality - I am quite a variable person, I am girly to a degree, I love picnics and polkadots, anything sparkly, or bubbly for that matter, my favourite colour is hot pink and most of my clothes are floral patterned and according to my boyfriend we own too many cushions. I love baking and I'm a little bit stubbon. Oh and according to a girlfriend I am a bit nutty (I deny all knowledge ;-)) And I still have a teddy bear at 33 years old (well technically its a giraffe).

So how do I narrow all that down to one selfie?! One part of my personality that does stick out is my sharing - I love to share my knowledge to benefit others, often even strangers, I have just changed roles at work where a large proportion of my role will be training staff on our new system along with anything else that might benefit them - I am a bit of a knowledge magnet, without being a know-it-all (I hope so anyway!!). Also a big part of me is sharing what I have with others - food for example - in return for Mr Bear I shared a box of my Mikado, I think that was a fair trade!! With this in mind I decided to revert back to my childhood a little, and held a teddy bears picnic!

After a lot of planning, tea drinking and procrastination and then being thwarted by traditional British Summer Downpours, it finally stopped raining enough and the sun came out to have my Teddy bears picnic! Though I must be honest the handsome bear featured is not mine but my neighbour kindly lent him to me - growing up I had a giant bear bigger than me, and he reminds me of that special time of hosting elaborate Teddy bears picnic's with girlfriends and dainty china tea-sets! Mr Bear had a lovely time in the sunshine eating our Mikado!

Mr Bear with his Mikado feast!




Monday, 17 August 2015

Meal Planning Monday and Making Changes

Today I started my new job! We have a four week training program and I came home starving despite sitting on my butt all day! Think was brain food needed, lunch of salmon couscous was obviously not enough! I've demolished half a cookie, a peach and hot chocolate since I got home already! This could be dangerous! Fortunately I have Pilates later to repair some of the damage and we are 'floor walking' later this week so hopefully will burn off some of the shortbread and chocolate digestives also consumed this afternoon! I am so happy to of been offered this opportunity, we are working on a huge project together that will transform the whole hospital and it will have lots of challenges along the way but also lots to learn too and skills to take away at the end of the contract. And overall learning to embrace change! 

Signing a 12 month contract was a bit scary, I have potentially a job to fall back to at the end but it would be back on a lower banding like I was before, and I don't entirely know where! I am quite fixated on terms sometimes and with previous anxiety issues (following redundancy and that related joy, oh and having fibromyalgia) it was a bit 'whoa there' but I am determined to use this to my benefit - learning to relax a little affects all areas - cooking comes into to it too I believe. I love pottering around in the kitchen but when I speak to non-cook's they are so scared to either experiment or try something new, I find it really quite sad that they in turn miss out and often put themselves down before they start, scared to fail. So I am determined to follow my own advice, not miss out on opportunities and keep muttering the phrase that I see around the internet by Erin Hanson- 

"But what if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?".

One mini change I made over the weekend was our glass cabinet, which also hoards holds our glassware, bowls and assorted crackers and teabag's (I really have to stop buying tea, I counted 13 boxes!) - B was like hmm what are you doing but now its done he said it does indeed look nice! For me its more wipe cleanable and brightens it up too! I have a whole roll left of the film and keep eyeing things up around the room now!


We started last weeks meal plan on track but on Wednesday ended up post shopping, hungry and lovely Fish n Chip's on the way home! Its a relatively new chippy not far from here and the chips were so delicious! Dangerous! So Wed's meal got moved to Thursday and Friday I was exhausted following a very busy final week and pretty much ate giant cookie for dinner! Me bad! I also had been instructed I had to make lots of cake before I left which kept me busy!



So this week allowing for brain meltdown on Friday around 5pm I have made a simple mealplan, nothing very exciting but it will get us through! B also has an interview this week so hopefully will be a double celebration on Friday night!

Breaded cod, mash, courgettes 
Bratwurst rolls with vegetables (shopping list given to B)
Pesto sausage pasta 
Fish pie, peas 
Chinese to celebrate new job!



Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Peanut Butter Oreo Crumble Cake

Biscuits, biscuits everywhere is pretty much the theme tune to the last few days! There has been bashing, blitzing, slicing and dicing testing out break-ability and of course a little tasting here and there too! If you are wondering why then it was a because I was a sent a few packets of some Special Edition Oreo's to play with. I do like a challenge and had good fun experimenting with them! Something I don't often get the chance to do as we flat-share and they were thankfully away for a few days whilst I destroyed the kitchen with crumbs and using nearly every bowl we own in the process!


**I have received product from Oreo for this post. It is an entry to the Foodies100 Wonderfilled recipe challenge sponsored by Oreo, which marks the launch of two exciting new flavours: Peanut Butter and Golden. The delicious new flavours are available in all major supermarkets at an RRP of £1.08. To find out more, visit www.facebook.com/oreo**


After a lot of scribbling and buying random kids sweets that never got used (I am sure won't hang around long once I declare to my boyfriend they can be eaten, shh!) I ended combining parts of other recipes I had been making for years, along with pure experimental madness! It paid off as this cake went down very well at work! Its my final week in my current job, and as a result I was requested to make lots of cake - they had chai tea fruit cake yesterday and today received this Oreo cake - the finale on Friday my renowned Sticky Toffee and Orange pudding! Next week is salad week!!

This cake has a soft, custard laced base sponge, topped with a banana and peanut puree, then crumbled up peanut butter Oreo's and oats, then a shiny chocolate glaze, oh and the requisite sprinkles of choice! I am tempted next time to add more banana to make a thicker layer but stick to two if you are are less persuaded by the idea! I roast my own peanuts (shelled from monkey nuts) as they taste better for baking and have no nasties, then grind them fresh to order - un-ground they will keep a fair few months in a cool air tight container. 



You will need a 8 " square pan, lined with parchment paper

Ingredients:

120g soft butter
130g golden caster sugar
2 medium eggs
50g wholemeal self raising flour
25g porridge oats
10 Peanut Butter Oreo's
100g plain flour
5 tsp custard powder
2 bananas, mashed
1 heaped tsp cornflour
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
20g roasted peanuts
pinch of sea salt

Glaze ingredients:

50g golden caster sugar
3 tbsp milk
20g cocoa
Pre-heat oven to 180o.

Sift together the flours, salt and custard powder. In a separate bowl cream together the butter, sugar and egg, fold in the dry mix. Spread over the base of the prepared lined pan.

Mix the cornflour with 2 tbsp water, add to a small saucepan and heat - stirring constantly, once bubbling add the vanilla, then stir in the bananas and cook for two minutes. Remove to one side.

Crush the Oreo's to small chunks, about 5cm at the biggest - I found the end of my wooden rolling pin most effective! Combine with the oats and put to one side.

Add the slightly cooled banana mix to the prepared sponge layer and smooth over. Top with the Oreo crumbs and press lightly down, bake in the middle of the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the sponge has cooked through.

In a saucepan, melt the butter, add the sugar and cocoa whisking until smooth and the sugar has melted, then whisk in the milk to form a smooth, thick sauce and simmer on a moderate heat for 2-3 minutes or until lovely and glossy.

Spoon the sauce over the cake, then decorate with sprinkles of choice and allow to cool fully in the tin.


There has been a few of us Foodies 100 bloggers taking part and some other Oreo related treats for you -

Peanut Butter and Golden Oreo Pudding from Fab Food 4 All

Peanut Butter Oreo Moon Rocks from Utterly Scrummy Food for Families

Oreo Nutella Ice Cream Cake from Kerry Cooks

White Chocolate Oreo Blondie Brownie from Ellie Bee Bakes

Slow Cooker White Chocolate Oreo Brownies from Baking Queen 74

Hidden Oreo Cupcakes from Sophie Loves Food

Peanut Butter Oreo Milkshake from Foodie Quine


Monday, 10 August 2015

Monday Meal Plan

Apologies for no meal plan last week, I had done a rough one but never managed to get around to posting it! We had some high and lowlights.... A planned salmon and kale parcel thingy looked promising but I sadly under seasoned it thinking the garlic and herb cheese would be enough..and it was a bit meh..and also a pretty bad frozen mango dessert that's inedible..oh and a Szechuan aubergine dish I found online and bookmarked also was a little bland / lacked sauce ..  though it definitely shows promise and I will tweak it to our liking! I did learn at least you are supposed to grind and sieve the Szechuan peppercorns so wasn't all entirely lost! 

Fortunately there were a few decent dishes too, a trusty pasta bake never fails to win affection and fed us well for dinner and lunch! I also did some experimental baking.. more will be revealed shortly! And a rather lovely fruit cake make with vanilla chai tea, a resounding success for my first proper fruit cake and our wonky oven!!


This week is my last week in my current job! I am both scared as I leave behind such a wonderful bunch of friends and yet super excited to start on Monday in my new role! Its a great opportunity for me to shine after in a few rough years and I am sure one that's going to keep me very busy, even more reason to meal plan to save both time and money! I just have to remember to pace myself as yesterday's baking marathon made my legs feel murderous, need to remind myself to sit down more often! Also as soon as I go off plan, off goes the budget too! Last week was not too bad.. I spent around £45 which was a little high but did include a big shop and a few reductions stashed away into the freezer that form most of this week's plan!

Monday - I was very naughty had Mcd's with a friend! Though the dearest is getting fed fish fingers, new potatoes and buttered courgettes

Tuesday - Pork tenderloin with noodles

Wednesday - Creamy baked tortellini with green beans

Thursday - Chicken burgers with potato wedges

Friday - Fish pie made with prawns and cod



Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Chorizo, Pork and Kale Lasagne

Lasagne was not one of my favourite meals growing up, I avoided it fairly successfully till probably my early twenties and had dated someone who loved, it so eventually I learned to make a fairly decent one and liked it enough to eat on special occasions... though the lure of red wine going into it possibly helped too at the time, and over the last few years it didn't really cross my mind to cook it until I decided to go experimental and I cooked an awesome one last year with fennel salami in it last year...(though it was actually 18 months ago on checking! I swear it was last year!) 

So last Saturday, whilst deciding what to make for supper and rummaging through the cupboards muttering under my breath the words de-cluttering after decanting half the stuff on to my toes, I stumbled across a couple of boxes of lasagne sheets and decided it was to be lasagne. Except I had pretty much everything bar a pack of beef mince. So experimental lasagne it became again!


We are a fully signed up club chorizo lovers and I decided to base it around that flavour wise, then pretty much make it up as I went along for the rest! Overall I have declared it as the best lasagne I have ever had, it tasted just so, so good! Meaty, a little spicy, rich and packed with flavour, what more can you want? Oh and for the lasagne purists out there this is not Italian or meant to be in anyway. Its just darn delicious!

As always with my meals I love a bit of yellow sticker hunting and managed to sneak a few bargains into the lasagne! We love kale and after getting a bag for a mere 7p it seemed idea to add, the iron-ey rich greens really do add an extra layer of flavour and my cheese was a steal too at 25p! I bought about 6 packets a few weeks back and froze them, they are no use for the cheeseboard but perfect for any baked dishes! I also used a basic mozzarella to keep it more cost effective too, and the mince was on special! Oh and my thyme plant was only 13p too!

   

Time: About 2 hours including cooking

Ingredients:

Serves 6-8

165g Spanish chorizo
1 yellow pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
250g ripe vine tomatoes, chopped
400g pork mince
1/2 red onion sliced
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 ball mozzarella
75g grated cheddar, mature
100g kale, woody stalks removed
400ml milk
1 tsp cornflour
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
12 sheets dried lasagne
Sea salt and pepper

You will need a large roasting pan- mine is 26x30cm (AKA trusty traybake tine).

1) Heat a glug of olive oil in a large saute pan, gently fry the onion for about 4 minutes stir in the peppers, chorizo and garlic, fry until the chorizo starts to leak its lovely orange oil, add the pork mince and break up with a wooden spatula or similar item until browned.

2) Add the fresh tomatoes and tinned tomatoes, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stir through the thyme leaves.

3) Meanwhile boil the kale in a saucepan for two minutes, drain keeping back 400ml of the cooking liquid. Soak the lasagne sheets in water for 15 minutes.

4) Add 200ml of the milk and 200ml of the kale water to the chorizo pan and season with salt and pepper and simmer over a moderate heat for a further 10 minutes. You need a relatively sloppy mixture.

5) Pre-heat oven to 190o.

6) Place  two scoops of the mince mixture in the bottom of the roasting dish, cover with prepared lasagne sheets, followed by half the remaining mince mixture and a little of the mozzarella. Scatter over the kale to form a layer. Top with 4 lasagne sheets, then remaining mince mix, and final layer of lasagne sheets.

7) In the now empty pan, add the remaining milk and kale water, bring to the boil scraping down any of the remaining pan juices, slacken the cornflour with a little water then whisk in until thickened, simmer for a minute then remove from the heat. Spread over the lasagne, sprinkle over the last of the mozzarella and cheese and a couple of thyme leaves.

8) Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until golden, lovely and bubbling.


I could pretend I served a nice green salad, which would be lovely but we had garlic bread instead!

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